Teens Told "Penises And Vaginas, Made For Each Other" At Bible Society Talk
“The genitals of males and females are beautifully complementary."
At a 2016 Bible Society class for high school students, same-sex attracted teenagers were told to curb their enthusiasm, and that penises and vaginas were "made for each other".
The Bible Society, an Australian organisation devoted to spreading the "Good Book", was embroiled in controversy this week over a sponsorship deal with Australian brewery Coopers.
Coopers, which faced accusations of being anti-LGBT, stepped away from the deal after a fierce consumer backlash that included boycotts from drinkers and bars.
The boycott was criticised as a totalitarian overreaction to a civil discussion about marriage by several conservative commentators and politicians.
Now video has emerged of Christian sexologist Patricia Weerakoon addressing Year 10 and 11 students as part of a series of Bible Society Masterclasses, held around Australia last year.
The Melbourne audience was made up of predominantly Christian high school students who had been nominated to attend by their schools.
Weerakoon told the class the "the genitals of males and females are beautifully complementary".
"Penises and vaginas, made for each other," she said. "The brains, our sexual responses fit. Go and ask your parents, they’ll explain all that to you."
Weerakoon acknowledged that some people are gay, but said an "innate predisposition" to same-sex attraction is not the same as a "predetermination to behave it".
"Remember that we all, as broken people who have sinned against God, have crazy desires. Maybe a desire for porn, or same-sex, or money, or position, or the most beautiful person, or the best ripped abs, or whatever. You have desires for something. We all have crazy desires. But what you do with this, the behaviour, is a choice."
For people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual, this often translates into a life of celibacy, she said.
"You may feel the desire. God, the Holy Spirit, gives you self control. You choose to live your life the way God intended. In many of those cases, it may mean a celibate lifestyle, a single lifestyle, without sexual activity for life.
"There are a lot of good Christian men and women who say they are same-sex attracted, or attracted to both sexes, but choose to live a life without sexual activity because they worship God.
"And their identity isn't on a label of their sexuality. Their identity is on that unearned gift of grace, which is a child of God and a brother or sister of Jesus Christ. That is the identity all of us need. That is what our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers need. And that is why people can have horrible desires about their life and their sex life and still be Christians."
She also criticised modern culture for treating desires – such as wanting to have sex with someone of the same sex – as needs.
"You see the difference between wanting something and needing it? How many of you want chocolate right now?" she asked the teenagers.
"Even if you want chocolate, you don’t need chocolate, and guess what, you don’t die without chocolate. So a want is different to a need. Unfortunately in our society, we are told every want is actually a need."
Nathan Despott runs Brave Network Melbourne, a group for LGBTI people of faith. He told BuzzFeed News that the ideas presented by Weerakoon are often seen in churches or organisations that employ gay conversion therapy techniques.
"There are churches that have given up the ex-gay ideology, in terms of it being about changing sexuality," he said. "They've realised there's too much evidence for the poor mental health, the detrimental effect it has on young LGBTI people, and the fact that people do not change.
"But they haven't been able to change their theology in terms of what they think about LGBTI people being 'not the intended way'. So they talk about celibacy."
Despott said that for many people in the Brave Network, celibacy is a "difficult and unreasonable" thing, but that what worries members most is the direction in which the celibacy solution takes the debate.
"The thing that is the most harmful is the sense that's something broken, deformed, damaged, in them."
John Pearson, the media and communications manager at the Bible Society, told BuzzFeed News the organisation does not have a position on homosexuality or celibacy.
"We advocate for the Bible without note or comment," he said. "The Bible Society is happy to work with churches of various denominations who have their own views on homosexuality, from the most liberal of churches to the most conservative."
Asked if the Bible Society was concerned by Weerakoon's comments on celibacy, Pearson said: "As an independent speaker, Patricia Weerakoon’s comments are her own and therefore don’t represent the neutrality of Bible Society Australia."
LGBT rights advocate Jason Ball, who often speaks to school groups about coming out as gay to his regional AFL team, said he was "deeply concerned" by Weerakoon's message.
"These messages are built on the premise that homosexuality is a disorder or a sin, and that gay people should therefore change their sexuality or live lives of celibacy," he said.
"These messages cause incredible harm and damage to LGBTI people and can often lead to depression or even suicide."
Patricia Weerakoon did not respond to an email from BuzzFeed News.